Breakthrough Advertising' by Eugene Schwartz is a groundbreaking masterpiece that delves deep into the art and science of effective marketing.Breakthrough Advertising' by Eugene Schwartz is a groundbreaking masterpiece that delves deep into the art and science of effective marketing.

What “is Breakthrough Advertising”?

This is a classic book on advertising and copywriting written by Eugene M. Schwartz. It is highly regarded in the field of marketing and advertising, and it was originally published in 1966. The book is known for its timeless principles and insights into effective advertising strategies.

Eugene M. Schwartz was a renowned copywriter and advertising expert, and in this book, he delves into the psychology of advertising, focusing on how to create compelling and persuasive advertisements that resonate with consumers.

Background and the Author’s journey

Eugene M. Schwartz (1927–1995) was a highly influential figure in the world of advertising and direct marketing. He had a prolific career, primarily as a copywriter and marketing strategist, and was known for his remarkable ability to create persuasive and effective advertising campaigns.

Schwartz’s journey in advertising began in the 1940s, working in various advertising agencies in New York City. He initially started as a junior copywriter but quickly made a name for himself due to his talent in crafting compelling copy that drove results. Over the years, Schwartz honed his skills, and his work gained recognition in the industry.

One of his most notable accomplishments came when he was hired by the publisher of “Funky Winkerbean,” a comic strip by cartoonist Tom Batiuk, to write ad copy for the strip. Schwartz’s ad campaign was so successful that it turned “Funky Winkerbean” into a national phenomenon, which was unusual for a comic strip at the time.

The Genesis of “Breakthrough Advertising” “Breakthrough Advertising” was the result of Schwartz’s vast experience in advertising and his unique approach to the craft. The book was published in 1966 and was primarily aimed at fellow advertising professionals, copywriters, and marketers. It was not a book for beginners but rather a deep dive into the psychology of advertising and how to create advertising campaigns that resonate with the target audience.

Schwartz was motivated to write this book because he recognized that many advertising practitioners were not effectively addressing the evolving sophistication of markets and consumers. He believed that effective advertising should evolve with the changing awareness and desires of the market. “Breakthrough Advertising” aimed to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive guide to understanding consumer psychology, market sophistication, and effective advertising techniques.

Schwartz’s approach was grounded in the idea that advertising should not aim to create desire but should instead channel and intensify existing desires. His emphasis on understanding the prospect’s mindset, focusing on mass desire, and crafting headlines that match the prospect’s level of awareness was a departure from conventional advertising wisdom at the time.

In writing the book, Schwartz drew from his decades of experience as a copywriter and marketing consultant, working with a wide range of clients and products. He had seen firsthand what worked and what didn’t in advertising, and he wanted to share his insights with the advertising community.

Legacy of “Breakthrough Advertising”

“Breakthrough Advertising” remains a classic in the world of advertising, and its principles continue to be relevant to this day. Many copywriters, marketers, and business professionals have turned to this book for guidance on creating persuasive advertising and effective marketing campaigns. It’s celebrated for its deep insights into the psychology of advertising and its practical techniques for creating compelling copy that resonates with the target audience.

Eugene M. Schwartz’s journey from a junior copywriter to a highly respected advertising expert led to the creation of this invaluable resource for those looking to master the art of persuasive advertising. His dedication to understanding consumer desires and market sophistication has left a lasting impact on the field of advertising, and “Breakthrough Advertising” remains a cherished work for anyone seeking to excel in the industry.

Some key concepts and ideas covered in the book include:

  1. Market Sophistication: Schwartz discusses how markets evolve and how advertising strategies need to adapt to changing consumer attitudes and knowledge. He categorizes markets into different stages of sophistication, from the least aware to the most aware, and provides guidance on how to approach advertising in each stage.
  2. Message-Matching: Schwartz emphasizes the importance of crafting advertisements that align with the current mindset of the target audience. He argues that advertising should meet the prospect’s awareness level and speak directly to their needs and desires.
  3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Schwartz stresses the significance of identifying and highlighting a product’s unique selling proposition – what makes it stand out from the competition. He explains how to position and communicate this USP effectively in advertising.
  4. Headlines and Copywriting: The book provides insights into creating attention-grabbing headlines and persuasive copy that engage readers and compel them to take action. Schwartz offers practical advice on how to write copy that resonates with the target audience.
  5. The Four Levels of Awareness: Schwartz presents a framework that categorizes prospects into four levels of awareness: Unaware, Problem-Aware, Solution-Aware, and Product-Aware. He discusses how to tailor advertising to each level of awareness. “Breakthrough Advertising” is considered a must-read for anyone in the marketing and advertising industry, as well as for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to improve their advertising and copywriting skills. While the book may be challenging to find in print due to its age and limited availability, it remains a valuable resource for understanding the psychology of advertising and creating effective ad campaigns.

Part I – The Basic Strategy of Persuasion

Chapter 1 – Mass Desire: The Force That Makes Advertising Work — And How to Focus It Onto Your Product In this chapter, Eugene Schwartz introduces the concept of “mass desire,” which is the driving force behind the success of advertising. Mass desire is the common need, want, or problem that a significant portion of the market shares. It’s the underlying motivation that leads people to buy products or seek solutions to their problems. The theory here is that advertising is most effective when it taps into and aligns with this mass desire.

Key Concepts:

  • Understanding Mass Desire: Schwartz emphasizes the importance of understanding the deep-seated desires and problems of the target audience. This understanding is fundamental for crafting compelling advertisements.
  • The Role of Desire in Advertising: The author argues that you don’t need to create desire in your audience; it already exists. Your job as an advertiser is to identify that desire and channel it toward your product or solution.

Examples: An example of mass desire could be found in the weight loss industry. Many people desire to lose weight and look better. Advertisers in this industry tap into this shared desire by promoting various diets, exercise programs, and weight loss products that promise to help individuals achieve their goals. Schwartz would advise advertisers in this industry to focus their advertisements on the specific aspects of their product that align with the mass desire for weight loss.

Chapter 2 – Your Prospect’s State of Awareness — How to Capitalize On It When You Write Your Headline This chapter deals with the concept of “prospect’s state of awareness.” Schwartz argues that different people in the market have varying levels of awareness about your product or the problem it solves. The theory suggests that your advertising approach should be tailored to your prospect’s state of awareness.

Key Concepts:

  • Levels of Awareness: Schwartz categorizes prospects into several levels of awareness: Unaware, Problem-Aware, Solution-Aware, and Product-Aware. The level of awareness determines how you should communicate with your audience.
  • Matching Message to Awareness: To create effective advertising, you need to match your message to your prospect’s current level of awareness. For example, if someone is unaware of their problem, your message should focus on problem identification rather than immediately presenting a solution.

Examples: Consider a company selling a new type of smartphone with groundbreaking features. If the market is unaware of this phone (Unaware level), the initial advertising campaign should focus on creating awareness and curiosity. If the market is already aware of the problem (perhaps their current phone is outdated), the campaign can shift towards highlighting the unique solutions and benefits the new phone offers.

Chapter 3 – The Sophistication of Your Market: How Many Products Have Been There Before You? Schwartz discusses the concept of market sophistication, which is the measure of how familiar the market is with products similar to yours. The theory suggests that the more sophisticated the market, the more you need to differentiate your product and your advertising.

Key Concepts:

  • Market Sophistication Levels: Schwartz categorizes markets into various stages of sophistication. In a highly sophisticated market, consumers have seen numerous similar products and advertisements, which makes it challenging to capture their attention.
  • Differentiation: To succeed in a sophisticated market, you need to differentiate your product and create an advertising message that stands out from the competition.

Examples: In a market saturated with similar products, such as smartphones or fitness supplements, companies need to find unique selling points and present them in a way that grabs the audience’s attention. For example, a new smartphone might emphasize its revolutionary camera technology in a sophisticated smartphone market, differentiating itself from competitors.

Chapter 4 – 38 Ways to Strengthen Your Headline Once You Have Your Basic Idea This chapter dives into the art of creating compelling headlines. Schwartz provides a list of 38 techniques to strengthen your headlines, emphasizing that the headline is the most critical element of an advertisement.

Key Concepts:

  • Headline Importance: Schwartz reiterates that the headline is the first thing your audience sees, and it must capture their attention and convey a clear message.
  • Variety of Approaches: The 38 techniques offer a wide range of strategies for creating impactful headlines, including curiosity, benefit-driven, urgency, and emotional appeal.

Examples: Some of the techniques for headlines Schwartz suggests are “The Secret of…” to pique curiosity, “How to…” to promise useful information, and “New…” to convey the novelty of a product. For instance, an ad for a cooking class might use a headline like “Discover the Secret of Perfecting Your Culinary Skills.” This headline combines curiosity and a promise of valuable knowledge to entice readers.

Chapter 5 – Summary: The Art of Creative Planning — How to Make an Idea Grow In this summary chapter, Schwartz wraps up the key concepts from the previous chapters and highlights the importance of creative planning in advertising. The theory underscores the need for a systematic approach to planning and executing advertising campaigns.

Key Concepts:

  • Systematic Planning: Effective advertising requires a well-thought-out plan that considers the market’s sophistication, the prospect’s state of awareness, and the product’s unique selling proposition.
  • Continuous Growth: The art of creative planning involves ongoing refinement and improvement of advertising strategies based on feedback and market changes.

Examples: A company planning an advertising campaign for a new energy drink might start by assessing the market’s sophistication, identifying the prospect’s awareness level, and highlighting the unique benefits of the product. As the campaign progresses, they may adjust their strategy based on the audience’s response and market dynamics.

These chapters in Part I of “Breakthrough Advertising” set the foundation for effective advertising strategies. They highlight the importance of understanding your audience’s desires, tailoring your message to their level of awareness, differentiating your product in a sophisticated market, creating attention-grabbing headlines, and employing systematic creative planning. These concepts are fundamental to successful advertising and copywriting.

Part II – The Seven Basic Techniques of Breakthrough Advertising

Chapter 6 – Inside Your Prospect’s Mind—What Makes People Read, Want, Believe

Theory: In this chapter, Schwartz delves into the psychology of advertising by exploring the factors that make people engage with and believe in advertising messages. The theory here is that understanding the workings of the human mind is crucial for crafting persuasive advertisements.

Key Concepts:

  • Emotions and Desires: Schwartz emphasizes that people are driven by their emotions and desires. Effective advertising should appeal to these emotional triggers.
  • Emotional Connection: Creating an emotional connection with the audience is essential for building trust and credibility in advertising.

Examples: A company promoting a luxury car may use imagery and storytelling that triggers feelings of prestige, comfort, and success. This emotional connection can create a desire to own the car, as it aligns with the prospect’s aspirations and self-image.

Chapter 7 – The First Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Intensification This chapter introduces the first of seven techniques for breakthrough advertising: Intensification. The theory suggests that effective advertising should intensify the prospect’s desire and make the product seem more valuable.

Key Concepts:

  • Amplifying Benefits: Intensification involves amplifying the benefits and advantages of a product to make it more appealing.
  • Creating Urgency: Making the prospect feel the need for the product right now is a key aspect of intensification.

Examples: In a sales ad for a limited-time offer on a product, intensification might include phrases like “Hurry, limited stock available!” or “Unbeatable one-time offer!” These statements intensify the prospect’s desire to act quickly to secure the product.

Chapter 8 – The Second Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Identification Schwartz discusses the second technique: Identification. The theory is that to connect with prospects, advertising should allow the audience to identify with the product by addressing their specific needs and desires.

Key Concepts:

  • Understanding the Audience: Identifying the prospect’s problems, needs, and desires is essential for crafting effective advertising.
  • Mirroring Language and Emotions: Using language and emotional cues that resonate with the audience helps them see themselves benefiting from the product.

Examples: If advertising a retirement savings plan, the copy might focus on the aspirations and concerns of the target audience, emphasizing how the plan aligns with their future goals. By addressing the specific needs and desires of the audience, the advertisement enables identification.

Chapter 9 – The Third Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Gradualization Gradualization is the third technique, and it involves gradually revealing the product’s features and benefits to the audience. The theory is that unveiling the information step by step maintains the prospect’s interest and builds anticipation.

Key Concepts:

  • Progressive Revelation: Gradualization involves revealing product information in a sequence, with each step building on the previous one.
  • Maintaining Engagement: This technique keeps the prospect engaged throughout the advertisement, making them more likely to take action.

Examples: A software company advertising a new application may gradually introduce its features in a series of ads. Each ad can focus on a specific feature, building excitement and anticipation for the final product launch.

Chapter 10 – The Fourth Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Redefinition Redefinition, the fourth technique, centers on changing the way the prospect perceives a product or problem. The theory is that by altering the prospect’s perspective, you can create a new, more appealing context for your product.

Key Concepts:

  • Shifting Perceptions: Redefinition involves shifting the way the audience views the problem your product addresses or redefining your product as the solution.
  • Creating a Unique Position: By changing the context, your product can occupy a unique and attractive position in the prospect’s mind.

Examples: A company marketing a high-end blender might redefine it as a versatile kitchen tool, capable of creating gourmet meals, smoothies, and even desserts. By changing the perception from a simple blender to a culinary device, they can attract a broader audience.

Chapter 11 – The Fifth Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Mechanization Mechanization, the fifth technique, involves describing the product in detail, showcasing its inner workings, and providing a clear understanding of how it operates. The theory is that by revealing the mechanics, you enhance the prospect’s trust and confidence in the product.

Key Concepts:

  • Transparency and Trust: Mechanization builds trust by demonstrating that the product’s operation is clear and reliable.
  • Educating the Prospect: In-depth information helps the prospect make an informed decision, reducing uncertainty and objections.

Examples: In an advertisement for a high-end watch, the copy might describe the precise Swiss movement, the intricate mechanics of the timepiece, and the craftsmanship behind it. This information reassures the prospect of the watch’s quality and precision.

Chapter 12 – The Sixth Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Concentration Concentration is the sixth technique, and it involves focusing on a single, powerful message or benefit. The theory is that a concentrated message is more memorable and impactful than a scattered one.

Key Concepts:

  • Singular Focus: Concentration emphasizes one primary benefit or message, simplifying the advertising message.
  • Memorability: A focused message is more likely to stick in the prospect’s mind.

Examples: An advertisement for a cleaning product might concentrate on a single message, such as “Eliminates 99.9% of Germs.” By focusing on this powerful benefit, the advertisement delivers a memorable and compelling message.

Chapter 13 – The Seventh Technique of Breakthrough Copy: Camouflage Camouflage, the seventh technique, involves subtly introducing the prospect to the product’s selling points instead of overtly promoting them. The theory is that this indirect approach makes the prospect feel like they’ve discovered the benefits themselves.

Key Concepts:

  • Invisible Persuasion: Camouflage hides the persuasion and makes the prospect feel like they made an independent decision.
  • Involvement: By allowing the prospect to “discover” the benefits, they become more engaged and attached to the product.

Examples: An advertisement for a new smartphone might use camouflage by showcasing a story about a person who, in the process of using the phone for various tasks, discovers its advanced camera, long-lasting battery, and exceptional performance. This approach subtly reveals the product’s selling points.

Chapter 14 – The Final Touches The final chapter of Part II covers miscellaneous elements that enhance advertising effectiveness. The theory is that by paying attention to these details, advertisers can optimize their campaigns.

Key Concepts:

  • Formatting and Layout: Proper formatting, font selection, and layout can impact the readability and impact of an advertisement.
  • Testing and Iteration: Continuously testing and refining advertisements is crucial for improvement.

Examples: In a print advertisement, the choice of fonts, colors, and the arrangement of text and images plays a vital role in the ad’s overall effectiveness. Additionally, ongoing A/B testing of headlines, visuals, and calls to action can help advertisers refine.

Additional Reading

  1. “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy: David Ogilvy was a legendary figure in the advertising industry, and this book offers his timeless insights into effective advertising and marketing strategies.
  2. “Scientific Advertising” by Claude C. Hopkins: This classic book is considered one of the foundational texts in advertising and marketing. Hopkins outlines the principles of data-driven advertising and persuasive copywriting.
  3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini: While not specifically an advertising book, Cialdini’s work explores the psychology of influence and persuasion, which is highly relevant for marketers and advertisers.
  4. “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads” by Luke Sullivan: This book provides a practical guide to creating compelling advertising and discusses the creative side of the industry.
  5. “The Advertising Concept Book” by Pete Barry: This book focuses on the concept and creative development of advertising campaigns. It’s a valuable resource for those involved in the creative aspects of advertising.
  6. “Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman: Whitman’s book delves into the psychology of consumer behavior and provides practical insights for writing persuasive copy.
  7. “The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells” by Robert W. Bly: This is a comprehensive guide to copywriting that covers various forms of written communication used in advertising and marketing.
  8. “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: While not a traditional advertising book, this work explores the principles of creating ideas that are memorable and persuasive, which is crucial in advertising.
  9. “Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age” by Jonah Berger: This book delves into the science behind what makes ideas and products go viral, offering insights for marketers looking to create contagious campaigns.
  10. “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing” by Emanuel Rosen: This book explores the power of word-of-mouth marketing and offers practical advice on how to generate buzz for your products or services.